Preparing for winter: Sweet peppers

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I finally got to completing yet another task that was long overdue (in fact, overdue can easily be my word of the season): bringing in the Gypsy sweet pepper from my balcony garden. I’ve always thought of peppers as annuals, when in fact they are tender perennials that can be easily overwintered sometimes outdoors, but indoors for sure. So this year I decided to give it a try.

I picked the Gypsy variety simply because of a short “days to maturity” period (about 65 days). I did not expect much, but was pleasantly surprised by the bold flavor and sweetness of the fruits.

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Plus, I now know that Gypsy pepper (if only this particular plant) does well on my balcony. So for sure this variety is a Fire Escape Garden keeper. I am saving seeds from some of the fruits, but also decided to give overwintering a try: after all, starting with a mature plant instead of a seedling means even earlier harvests!

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I also had to transplant the pepper from a grow bag into a hard-walled pot (grow bags dry way too fast indoors when the heating is on and are generally hard to move around). A mature “grown-up” gardener would have trimmed the branches first, but I thought it a good idea to transplant the pepper as is. Of course, quite a few branches broke off as a result…

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I decided to hang the broken branch that had fruits on to see if they can ripen a bit more, but soon saw that it was futile.

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Besides, it is generally best to remove all the fruits for overwintering to make sure the plant has all the energy it can possibly get. So I had to take control of my greedy side and take down all the peppers – ripe and green. Those peppers tasted great in fried rice!

Another challenge with overwintering garden plants indoors is getting enough light. I’m using the strongest grow light I have (5000K lux, full spectrum) on this pepper, so it better do well! Most people warn that the peppers may drop leaves after you bring them indoors, and that’s a normal reaction to stress, which they then recover from. Time will show, I guess!

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Have you ever overwintered sweet pepper plants?

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